What can you do if you are worried?
Firstly: please don’t panic and suddenly stop taking your HRT – this could cause withdrawal symptoms and make you feel really ill.
Secondly: please go and see your doctor and discuss with them all the options that are available for you. I do know that for many of you it will be really difficult to get an immediate appointment but do go and get advice when you can.
The government’s medicines regulatory agency, the MHRA, has released a statement in response to the study, which I’ve included for you to read in the box at the end of this article.
What to do next?
If you have spoken to your doctor and have decided to come off HRT it is important to come off in the right way to avoid a sudden hormonal crash. Coming off really, really slowly is very important to allow your body to re-adjust to your own natural hormone level, which will be much lower than that your body is now used to with HRT supplementation. For more detailed advice on how to come off HRT
What if you are coming off HRT but are getting symptoms and need something to help?
Natural remedies can often be supportive and there are a range of products that you can take, depending on your symptoms. Not every woman will need the same remedy.
General menopause symptoms can often be eased by a fermented soya supplement such as Menopause Support. This does take a little while to kick in, so can be used alongside HRT as you slowly reduce it.
Sage is traditionally used for hot flushes and night sweats and is licensed for relief of this symptom. So if you find that the flushes and sweats start to come back as you reduce your HRT, you can take this herb either on its own or with Menopause Support.
I am happy to provide you with the technical data about these products to run by your doctor, if you wish.
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What else can support you?
The hormonal changes that occur when you are coming off HRT (especially if you do it quickly) can stress the nervous system, leading to symptoms such as fatigue, low mood etc. Supporting your nervous system is really important, so taking supplements such as magnesium, a vitamin B Complex and zinc can often help and it is a good idea to start taking these before you start reducing your HRT. Don’t be surprised if you feel very tired after stopping HRT – the energy your body is using up rebalancing your hormones can be quite substantial, although not all women experience this symptom.
Acupuncture can often be really helpful for supporting your nervous system when coming off HRT, so it’s worth looking into as well.
If the thought of coming off HRT is making you panic but you still want to go ahead, then complementary practitioners such as a Nutritional Therapist, Medical Herbalist or Naturopath can often formulate an individual treatment plan for you with added personal support, which can be very helpful at this time.
What if you had been thinking of starting HRT but are now wondering what to do?
There are numerous herbal remedies, supplements and therapies available that can help to ease menopause symptoms including the ones I have already mentioned above, so don’t think that you have nowhere else to turn.
Menopause expert Eileen Durward talks about natural remedies to help balance your hormones.
If you need more information or just want to chat, please don’t hesitate to email me and I will be happy to help.
MHRA statement in response to the study in The Lancet on the use of HRT
The MHRA is the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency – the government body that oversees medicines in the UK.
Dr Sarah Branch, Deputy Director of MHRA’s Vigilance and Risk Management of Medicines (VRMM) Division said:
Our advice has always been that the lowest effective dose of HRT should be used for the shortest possible time. We will evaluate the findings of this study and its implications for shorter-term use and update product information as necessary. The decision to start, continue or stop HRT should be made jointly by a woman and her doctor, based on the best advice available and her own personal circumstances, including her age, her need for treatment and her medical risk factors.
Women on HRT should have regular health check-ups and their need to continue treatment should be re-assessed at least annually. Any woman on HRT who has any questions should speak to her doctor who is best placed to advise.